94% of incumbents won re-election in 2022

Welcome to the Thursday, January 5, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. 94% of incumbents won re-election in 2022
  2. An update on Pennsylvania and Ohio House leadership elections 
  3. Learn about upcoming Virginia and Mississippi special elections with On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

94% of incumbents won re-election in 2022

In the 2022 general elections, 94% of incumbents in Ballotpedia’s core coverage scope were re-elected—an increase from the 93% of incumbents who won in November 2020. In the 2021 general elections, 86% of incumbents were re-election.

On Nov. 8, 2022, we covered all congressional and state races, as well as local elections in America’s 100 most populous cities.

Here are the highlights from our analysis:

  • The incumbent win rate was at or above 90% in all but nine states: Alaska, California, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • The lowest overall incumbent win rate was in Virginia with 77%. Delaware, Massachusetts, and Mississippi were the only states with a 100% incumbent win rate.
  • Congressional incumbents had a 98% win rate. Forty-one states had a 100% win rate in congressional races.
  • State-level incumbents had a 96% win rate. Six states had a 100% win rate in state-level races.
  • State legislative incumbents had a 96% average win rate.
  • Local-level incumbents had a 90% average win rate. Thirteen states had a 100% win rate in local-level races.
  • Local legislative incumbents had an average incumbent win rate of 84%.

The map below highlights each state based on its incumbent win rate:

Click here to read more about incumbent win rates in 2022 elections. 

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An update on Pennsylvania and Ohio House leadership elections 

The U.S. House leadership elections have gotten a lot of attention recently (you can follow along with us here). But the House isn’t the only governing body determining its leadership for the coming years. In state legislatures across the country, lawmakers are voting for their chamber leaders. 

And in Pennsylvania and Ohio, we’ve seen some unexpected results in state House leadership elections. Let’s bring you up to speed.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Going into the November elections, Republicans held a 113-88 majority in the state House of Representatives (with two vacancies). Republicans have controlled the Pennsylvania state House since 2011

On Nov. 8, Democrats won 102 seats to Republicans’ 101. But three seats that Democrats won were guaranteed to become vacant at the start of the legislative session due to a death and two members resigning to assume higher office. Those vacancies gave Republicans a functional 101-99 seat majority going into the leadership elections on Jan. 3. 

Democrats had planned to nominate Rep. Joanna McClinton (D) as speaker, but the vacancies left them unable to secure a majority vote. After a motion to adjourn failed in a 100-100 vote tie in the late afternoon of Jan. 3, Rep. Jim Gregory (R) nominated Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) for speaker. Members of the chamber voted 115-85 to elect Rozzi as Speaker of the House—a vote that included 16 Republicans. 

In nominating Rozzi, Gregory said, “As we are gathered in this chamber today, we must look at our razor-thin majorities, and the likelihood of shifting majorities throughout this session.”

Rozzi said he would govern as an independent: “I pledge to caucus with neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. My staff will be made up of people from both parties. I pledge my allegiance and my loyalty to no interest in this building, to no interest in our politics. I pledge my loyalty to the people of the commonwealth.”

House Democrats said Rozzi will remain a Democrat. Republican leadership said, “Upon Rozzi becoming an Independent, the partisan makeup in the House will be 101 Republicans, 98 Democrats, and one Independent.” We’ve reached out to Rozzi’s office to verify if he will change his party affiliation. We will update you once we get a response. 

Three vacancies, to be filled through special elections, are:

  • District 32: Incumbent Anthony DeLuca (D) died on Oct. 9. His name remained on the ballot, and he was re-elected, creating a vacancy on Jan. 3 when members were sworn in.
  • District 34: Incumbent Summer Lee (D) won re-election but was also elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Lee resigned on Dec. 7, 2022, in preparation for the office change.
  • District 35: Incumbent Austin Davis (D) won re-election but also won election as Lieutenant Governor. Davis resigned on Dec. 7, 2022, in preparation for the office change.

The special election for the 32nd District is scheduled for Feb. 7. The elections for the 34th and 35th Districts were also scheduled for Feb. 7, but they’re on hold pending a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court hearing. Republicans challenged the date, arguing McClinton did not have the authority to schedule the elections. 

According to CNAlysis, all three vacant districts voted for President Joe Biden (D) by margins of more than 15 percentage points in 2020. 

Ohio House of Representatives

Going into the Nov. 8 elections, Republicans controlled the Ohio House of Representatives 64-35. Following the election, Republicans increased their majority to 67-32. Ohio has a Republican trifecta

Rep. Derek Merrin (R) won a House GOP caucus vote for Speaker of the House in November, and many anticipated he would win the official vote for speaker in January. However, on Jan. 3, Rep. Jason Stephens (R) was elected speaker in a 54-43 vote. All 32 House Democrats supported Stephens. Stephens is considered a moderate Republican.

Democratic Minority Leader Allison Russo said, “They needed our votes and we took the opportunity to make sure that we were going to be working with the speaker who we felt at the end of the day would work with us on the issues we could agree on.” 

Stephens said, “It is evident to us that this body, the Ohio House, has seen a lot of transition and change in the last few years. But with this new year, I encourage all of us to focus on what unites us.”

Click here to read more about minority and coalition control of state legislative chambers. You can read more about control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and upcoming special electrons at the link below. Click here to learn more about Ohio House of Representatives election results. 

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Learn about upcoming Virginia and Mississippi special elections with On the Ballot, our weekly podcast

On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, takes a closer look at the week’s top political stories.

This week’s episode is a look at special elections. Staff writer Joel Williams walks host Victoria Rose through the ins and outs of special legislative elections and the statistics on how often they occur. Then, Joel previews the special elections set to take place next week for Mississippi’s House District 23 and Virginia’s House Districts 24 and 35 and Senate District 7. 

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of Jan. 5, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode drops! 

Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.

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